"CJ" Johnson established his name as one of the great contributors to the sport of men's gymnastics during his 36 seasons as UIC's head coach. After retiring in August of 2010, "CJ" has returned to the Flames as a Volunteer Assistant Coach for the 2011 season.
UIC cultivated a tradition of excellence under Johnson's watch. His program accumulated numerous championships and awards, including a pair of NCAA Division II National Championships, an impressive run of four consecutive team appearances in the NCAA Division I Regionals from 1994-97, the school's first-ever Eastern College Athletic Conference (ECAC) championship in 2004 and back-to-back ECAC titles in 2009 and 2010.
He developed 26 All-Americans and helped over 70 individuals earn all-around certificates. His 2008 squad compiled the most meet victories in school history (16) and tallied the highest winning percentage (.688) in over 12 seasons.
Johnson announced his retirement in August 2010, completing a legacy of excellence at UIC that began when he was a student-athlete for the school in the late 60s and early 70s and included nearly four decades of coaching success that started in 1974.
Undoubtedly one of the top gymnastics coaches in the country, Johnson received a slew of awards throughout his career for his outstanding contributions. Among his most recent honors are the ECAC Coach of the Year and the NCAA East Region Coach of the Year awards that he earned in 2004 and 2010.
In the spring of 2000, Johnson received the prestigious NCAA Honor Coach Award for excellence and giving over 25 years to gymnastics as a contributor, coach and athlete. Johnson also earned one of gymnastics' most prestigious awards for his accomplishments and dedication to gymnastics at the 1990 National Congress in New Orleans, where the United States Gymnastics Federation rewarded him with its Distinguished Service Award, which is second only to the USAG's Coach of the Year Award.
For his leadership and success in the gym, Johnson's 1978 and 1979 Division II National Championship teams brought him two consecutive NCAA Coach of the Year Awards. Since the program moved to Division I status in 1980, he has also been named the Mideast Region Coach of the Year on four different occasions, first in 1980 when his team was 10th in the nation, then again in 1988, 1994 and 1995.
On May 10th, 2002, Johnson's support of prep gymnastics earned him an induction into the Illinois High School Gymnastics Coaches Association Hall of Fame.
Johnson is not only a legend in the United States; he has made his name very well-known overseas. In 1978, he was selected by the NCAA to coach the USA All-Star Team that competed in Mexico City. He traveled to Budapest, Hungary, a year later to coach the USA Men's Gymnastics Team at the Hungarian Invitational. Johnson also served as Head Coach of the East Region Team at the 1987 U.S. Olympic Festival.
Ten years after the festival he was selected to work with the coaching staff of the Irish National Team as a clinician and lecturer, which resulted in his appointment as head coach of that squad in 1988. In this role, he guided former Flame Barry McDonald to the 1996 Summer Olympics in Atlanta and fellow UIC alum Gareth Robinson to the 1995 World Games in Sabae, Japan.
His international experience does not stop there. Johnson's other globetrotting coaching adventures include his appointment as an international clinician to Costa Rica by the United States Olympic Committee and the United States Gymnastics Federation. He has also served as the National Gymnastics Coach of Barbados at the British Commonwealth Games in Victoria, British Columbia, where UIC gymnast Sean Grosvenor competed. Most recently Johnson helped prepare current all-around standout Neil Faustino for his second trip to the Southeast Asian Games as part of the Philippine National Team in 2005.
Locally, Johnson shares his gymnastics expertise outside of UIC by acting as a clinician for the Illinois High School Gymnastics Coaches Association. On 10 different occasions, Johnson has served the association at the Winter Clinic as well as at the Fall Retreat in Lake Geneva, Wis. Not only does Johnson make himself available as a coach, he has also judged the IHSA State Gymnastics Series over the past decade and has helped organize some of the biggest prep meets in the state.
"CJ" is an active member of the College Gymnastics Association and served as the organization's president from 1994-96.
Johnson's gymnastics career began in the 1960s as a competitor at the club, high school and college levels. A two-year captain for UIC under Bill Roetzheim, Johnson excelled on horizontal bar and vault. After graduating from UIC in 1972, he began his coaching career at Proviso West High School, where he produced three high school All-Americans before heading back to the UIC campus as a coach.
Johnson and his wife, Jean, have two daughters, Katie and Renee, and reside in LaGrange, Ill.